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College football rankings: ESPN updates top 25 for Week 6

ESPN updated its top 25 college football rankings for Week 6

College football rankings: ESPN updates top 25 poll for Week 6

ESPN Football Power Index (FPI) college football rankings and computer prediction model are a measure of team strength that predicts a team’s future performance.

Rankings and scores predictions are based on 20,000 simulations of a team’s season, using a combination of analytics, including scores to date, quality of opponents, and a team’s schedule.

This isn't a conventional "power ranking," but a projection of how every team would finish against a team on a neutral field, ranked by expected point margin per game

25. NC State

NC State Wolfpack college football team schedule, rankings

Rankings change: Up 6

Chance to make the College Football Playoff: 0.1%

Where NC State is now: Oddly enough, moving up the ESPN rankings despite a loss and only just entering its top 25 after coming into last weekend in the AP top 10. That strange position accounts for this model being a predictive poll rather than a power ranking, with the index projecting the Wolfpack will win their remaining games by a margin of 9.5 points.

24. Kentucky

Kentucky Wildcats college football team schedule, rankings

Rankings change: Up 6

Chance to make the College Football Playoff: 0.1%

Where Kentucky is now: Another big mover in this poll despite losing on the road to Ole Miss, thanks to a pair of fourth quarter fumbles by quarterback Will Levis in addition to three missed kicks on special teams. But the Wildcats stay in this top 25 owing to its impressive per-game scoring margin projection of 9.7  points going forward.

23. Washington

Washington Huskies college football team schedule, rankings

Rankings change: Down 5

Chance to make the College Football Playoff: 0.3%

Where Washington is now: Still 10.6 points better than any team on its schedule the rest of the way, according to the ESPN rankings, but coming off its first loss of the year, at UCLA after its woeful secondary proved to be no match against the Bruins' attackers. But UW hung in there, keeping the game close to the end.

22. Oregon

Oregon Ducks college football team schedule, rankings

Rankings change: Down 1

Chance to make the College Football Playoff: 0.7%

Where Oregon is now: Coming off a nice win over Stanford at home to extend that long win streak at Autzen and keep itself right in the thick of the suddenly interesting Pac-12 title chase. That opening loss to Georgia will stick out all year, but this team has the pieces, especially on offense, to throw some punches and make a good bowl.

21. Maryland

Maryland Terrapins college football team schedule, rankings

Rankings change: Up 3

Chance to make the College Football Playoff: 0.4%

Where Maryland is now: Just 7 points removed from an undefeated record after last week's solid showing at Michigan and a 27-13 victory over Michigan State, scoring twice on its first 2 possessions and passing what the team feels is an important conference test with tougher games still to come.

20. Cincinnati

Cincinnati Bearcats college football team schedule, rankings

Rankings change: Down 3

Chance to make the College Football Playoff: 0.5%

Where Cincinnati is now: Fresh off winning its 17th straight game over an AAC team after beating Tulsa by 10, getting two touchdowns from quarterback Ben Bryant and two more on the ground in a balanced effort. There are dates at SMU and UCF to come, with FPI projecting the Bearcats will win games by an average of 12.2 points in the future.

19. Oklahoma

oklahoma sooners football

Rankings change: Down 11

Chance to make the College Football Playoff: 0.0%

Where Oklahoma is now: Nowhere in particular after taking a nasty loss on the road to TCU, allowing almost 700 total yards and 41 points in the first half, not to mention quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who took an ugly hit to the head. OU is at two losses now, with existential questions facing this defense, which has been Brent Venables' calling card for 20 years.

18. Notre Dame

Notre Dame Fighting Irish college football team schedule, rankings

Rankings change: Down 2

Chance to make the College Football Playoff: 0.4%

Where Notre Dame is now: At 2-2 coming off an idle week and with a few questionable games to come, including next week against BYU, and at a suddenly undefeated and cruising Syracuse, in addition to matchups with Clemson and USC still ahead. 

17. Mississippi State

mississippi state football

Rankings change: Up 2

Chance to make the College Football Playoff: 0.3%

Where Mississippi State is now: Coming off a statement win at home against Texas A&M in a game few expected the Bulldogs would win and getting a crucial leg-up in the division, but still projected to win just 7.7 games going forward by the index prediction model.

16. Baylor

Baylor Bears college football team schedule, rankings

Rankings change: Down 1

Chance to make the College Football Playoff: 0.1%

Where Baylor is now: Those hopes of winning the Big 12 title again appear to be shot after absorbing its second loss of the season, this week at home to an aggressive and confident Oklahoma State. That gives Baylor just a 9% percent chance to win the conference and expected to win 7.1 games this season.

15. Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State Cowboys college football team schedule, rankings

Rankings change: Up 5

Chance to make the College Football Playoff: 3.7%

Where Oklahoma State is now: Getting some serious momentum in the Big 12 title chase after a balanced, dominating win on the road at Baylor, scoring on all five red zone trips while its defense tacked on a safety and it special teams looked good, scoring on a 98 yard touchdown return to open the second half.

14. Minnesota

tanner morgan minnesota

Rankings change: None

Chance to make the College Football Playoff: 1.2%

Where Minnesota is now: Suffering its first loss of the season, by 10 at home to unranked Purdue despite being double-digit favorites. Not having top back Mo Ibrahim and lead receiver Chris Autman-Bell certainly didn't help as the offense failed to properly execute all day, as Minnesota takes a hit in the wide open Big Ten West race.

13. TCU

TCU Horned Frogs college football team schedule, rankings

Rankings change: Up 15

Chance to make the College Football Playoff: 4.8%

Where TCU is now: Sitting perfect through four games so far and coming off a demolition of Oklahoma at home behind a breakout offensive performance, and now the biggest riser in the ESPN rankings. FPI projects the Horned Frogs could win 9 games by an average of 13.1 points per game.

12. Penn State

Penn State head coach James Franklin during a Big Ten college football game.

Rankings change: Up 1

Chance to make the College Football Playoff: 7.5%

Where Penn State is now: Winning close at home against Northwestern isn't a great look, especially when you turn the ball over 5 times in the process, but this defense took a stand late and the Nittany Lions piled on over 200 yards rushing to stay perfect with an idle week coming up and then the meat of a tough Big Ten East slate.

11. USC

USC Trojans college football team schedule, rankings

Rankings change: Down 2

Chance to make the College Football Playoff: 17.8%

Where USC is now: Still perfect but coming off another close game, this time to Arizona State, but the Trojans found enough room to pull away after the halftime break. That leaves USC the 33.6 percent shot to win the Pac-12, according to FPI, second only to Utah. Early returns on Lincoln Riley's first year are generally positive after this team won 4 games a year ago.

10. Tennessee

Tennessee Vols college football team schedule, rankings

Rankings change: Up 2

Chance to make the College Football Playoff: 7.0%

Where Tennessee is now: Idle for Week 5 after building all that good momentum and taking a breath before getting into the nitty-gritty of the SEC schedule the rest of the way. Now comes a 5 week stretch against LSU, Alabama, Georgia, and Kentucky that will really tell the tale on the Vols.

9. Ole Miss

Ole Miss Rebels college football team schedule, rankings

Rankings change: Up 2

Chance to make the College Football Playoff: 9.8%

Where Ole Miss is now: Playing some solid defense and running the ball at an elite level after knocking off a top 10 Kentucky team at home. The Rebs chalked up two fourth quarter turnovers to seal the win, which keeps this team perfect through five games and in prime position to make a potential statement as the solid No. 2 option in the tough SEC West.

8. LSU

LSU Tigers college football team schedule, rankings

Rankings change: Down 1

Chance to make the College Football Playoff: 4.2%

Where LSU is now: Coming off an impressive 17-point comeback on the road against Auburn to stay at 4-1, just one dramatic point away from being undefeated in Brian Kelly's maiden season. The defensive front looks solid, but there are questions around offensive play-calling so far. Still, this team can bother the likes of Ole Miss and Alabama going forward.

7. Utah

Utah Utes college football team schedule, rankings

Rankings change: Up 3

Chance to make the College Football Playoff: 12.2%

Where Utah is now: Still impressive on offense with a mix of physicality and agility on the perimeter and coming off a big win over Oregon State. That loss at Florida still sticks out, especially as the Gators have struggled since, but the Utes still have the power to take and hold the Pac-12 and make another solid bowl appearance. A tough three week stretch is coming: at UCLA, vs. USC, and at Wazzu.

6. Texas

Texas Longhorns college football team schedule, rankings

Rankings change: None

Chance to make the College Football Playoff: 5.6%

Where Texas is now: The ESPN rankings model just can't quit the Longhorns, which played some better defense in an 18-point win over West Virginia. Despite its paltry CFP chances, the index still projects Texas will win its remaining games by a respectable margin of 18.7 points each time out, hence its being ranked this high.

5. Clemson

Clemson Tigers college football team schedule, rankings

Rankings change: None

Chance to make College Football Playoff: 52.6%

Where Clemson is now: Fresh off another statement win inside the division, this time at home against 10th ranked NC State, behind a strong defensive effort at the line and another solid showing from quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, who looks like he can take this team back to the ACC and the playoff.

4. Michigan

Michigan Wolverines college football team schedule, rankings

Rankings change: None

Chance to make the College Football Playoff: 40.6%

Where Michigan is now: The offense clicked from start to finish despite going against Iowa's nation-leading scoring defense while the Wolverines predictably shut down what remains of the Hawkeyes' own skill threat. Michigan is still the undisputed No. 2 in the Big Ten behind the Buckeyes and projected to win its remaining games by 20.0 points.

3. Georgia

Georgia Bulldogs college football team schedule, rankings

Rankings change: None

Chance to make the College Football Playoff: 64.2%

Where Georgia is now: A week after playing Kent State way too close at home, it played Missouri way too close on the road. Georgia scored two critical touchdowns in the fourth quarter after being held out of the end zone all night, and has some issues protecting the quarterback and developing another deep threat besides Brock Bowers.

2. Ohio State

Ohio State Buckeyes college football team schedule, rankings

Rankings change: None

Chance to make the College Football Playoff: 78.3%

Where Ohio State is now: Just in case you thought the Buckeyes were just a finesse, passing team, Miyan Williams carried the day offensively against Rutgers, powering through for a personal-best 189 yards on the ground and tied a school record with 5 touchdown runs. Another dominant win in the Big Ten, but Jim Knowles' new defense hasn't really been tested yet the way other playoff contenders have been. OSU edges out Georgia in the points per win projection margin, but only just: the Buckeyes are at 27.5 and the Bulldogs at 25.2.

1. Alabama

Alabama Crimson Tide college football team schedule, rankings

Rankings change: None

Chance to make College Football Playoff: 87.3%

Where Alabama is now: Hoping and praying that Bryce Young's throwing shoulder holds up the rest of the way. Young left the Arkansas game in a lot of pain, and though he didn't return to the field, was on the sideline and in apparently good spirits. Bama's title hopes don't crater without him under center, but they don't get better, either. This team has the front seven to grind opponents, as it did against the Hogs' superb run game, and the backs to carry the day.


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